ZAMBOANGA CITY – A former ranking New People’s Army (NPA) rebel-turned-soldier urged his former comrades to return to the fold of the law and live a peaceful life with their families.

In a video message Tuesday on the Facebook Page of the 1st Infantry Division (1ID), Private Nestor Apanon said his ex-comrades in the mountains can also avail of the government’s program to uplift their lives just like him.

Apanon, 34, said he managed to buy a lot and build a house through the financial assistance by the government following his surrender.

Apanon, who surrendered in January 2020, received PHP20,000 immediate cash assistance from the provincial governor of Zamboanga del Norte; a PHP60,000 livelihood fund assistance, and PHP240,000 firearms remuneration funds for the two M14 rifles he yielded.

“My life is very different now compared to the time when I was in the mountains. Now I can freely visit my parents and help them in their needs,” Apanon said.

“In my years of stay with the NPA, they didn’t even provide me one peso. They promised to help our parents, to give monthly support, but that was not fulfilled,” he added.

Apanon said he decided to surrender after realizing their struggle will not do good to the masses and that “what we have been telling to the people are all lies.”

He said upon recruitment, the NPA indoctrinated him for three months and was given firearms for training as an NPA fighter.

Capt. Mary Jephte Mañebog, 1ID information officer, said Apanon joined the NPA when he was 18 years old.

After three years, Apanon left the NPA and rejoined the group at the age of 26 where he stayed with the movement for five years more.

Mañebog said Apanon surrendered in January 2020 to the Army’s 97th Infantry Battalion in Del Pilar, Piñan, Zamboanga del Norte.

Apanon was the former vice commander of the Main Guerilla Unit of the NPA’s Western Mindanao Regional Party Committee.

Currently, he is assigned with the Army’s 102nd Infantry Brigade, one of the line units of the 1ID. (PNA)